George Gershwin – oxygenator

The writer and playwright S. N. Behrman observed that George Gershwin “oxygenated” any room he entered. Other friends agreed. Commandeering the piano with a cigar clenched between his teeth, Gershwin dominated any gathering, yet instead of sucking the air out of a party he enlivened it. In the same spirit he oxygenated American music, inspiring a new and expanded sense of its possibilities, from pop songs to orchestral works to opera. Nearly 70 years after his death at the age of only 38, he remains America’s most protean and popular composer.

Fascinating schism: How the uniquely gifted George Gershwin fashioned masterpieces in both popular and classical music,” by Ken Emerson, a book review of “George Gershwin: His Life and Works,” by Howard Pollack, in The Boston Globe, December 17, 2006

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